Clearing my spindle

When this site was redesigned, we added the Picks feature above so that we could note news as it was breaking, bring items of interest to the attention of readers about which we didn’t necessarily have anything to say, or take note of pieces that were otherwise worthy of your attention. The Picks feature has obviated the need I occasionally felt to post installments of this series that served the same purpose, but I have a few items I would like to draw to your attention this morning without having much of interest to say about them myself other than to say I believe they are worth pausing over.

I don’t think George Will has ever written a more infuriating column than the one he wrote commending Obama’s Geneva deal with Iran. Why infuriating? Will saves himself the trouble of arguing the premise of his column — that Iran can be “contained” (or deterred) like the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Will saves himself the trouble of arguing it by simply assuming it. Will therefore begs the preeminent question raised by the mullahs’ nuclear program.

As Norman Podhoretz subsequently pointed out in an important Wall Street Journal column (apparently now behind the Journal’s subscription paywall), the premise of Will’s column is debatable at best. Why hasn’t Will returned to debate it?

The Autumn 2013 issue of City Journal, the Manhattan Institute’s terrific quarterly magazine, carries Kay Hymovitz’s essay “Boy trouble.” Hymovitz writes: “Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.” Why might that be? See also Warren Meyer, “Do we care about income inequality, or absolute well-being?”

Ruth Wisse’s review/essay taking up two new books on Israel is a brilliant piece of work. Posted last week on Mosaic,” Professor Wisse’s essay is “Their tragic land.” At Commentary Jonatan Tobin comments in “Understanding two views of modern Israel.” While over at Commentary, also take a look at “Roger Waters’s anti-Jewish paranoia.”

Who is Guy Millière? By the evidence of “After Geneva, ‘the Islamic bomb,'” he is someone worth getting to know. Related: Lee Smith, “Why Obama’s engagement with Iran will create a more violent Middle East,” and Dore Gold, “Conflicting expectations from the Geneva document.” While in this particular neighborhood, see also David Horovitz, “Ancestry, guts and betrayal: Musings from a Prague winter.”

When former Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich sticks to his show business knitting, he is worth reading. I greatly enjoyed his recent New York article on Stephen Sondheim, “The Sondheim puzzle.” The article is a companion to the terrific HBO documentary produced by Rich, Six by Sondheim. Highly recommended.

Bonus spindle pick: Mel Torme’s rendition of “All I Need Is the Girl,” from Gypsy, for which Sondheim wrote the lyrics somewhere near the start of his career (Jule Styne wrote the music). From the album Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley. Need I say it? Highly recommended.


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